African. Derived from the Kiswahili word asante, meaning thank you. Ashanti is a region in central Ghana. The traditional inhabitants of the region are known as Ashanti people.
What does the name Ashantee mean?thank you a-shan-tee, ash(a)-ntee. Origin:Ghanaian. Popularity:10668. Meaning:thank you.
What does Aziza mean in African?Aziza means “beloved”, “powerful” and “respected” (from Arabic “ʾaʿazza/أَعَزَّ” to love/to respect or “ʿazīz/عزیز” = powerful/dear/strong) and “gorgeous”, “precious” or “valuable” in African language.
Is Aziza an Egyptian name?In Egyptian Baby Names the meaning of the name Aziza is: Precious.
How do I pronounce Aziza?Phonetic spelling of Aziza. uh-zee-zah. az-iza. aa-ZIY-Zaa. ... Meanings for Aziza. Strong. Precious. ... Examples of in a sentence. First Taste: Reopened Aziza Dishes Moroccan-Spiced Happiness in Outer Richmond. Aziza to reopen in the Outer Richmond next week after 3-year closure. ... Translations of Aziza. Arabic : عزيزة Chinese : 阿齐扎
What is the meaning of Aviva?springlike Aviva is a female first name. It is a modern Hebrew name meaning springlike, dewy, or fresh.
There you are, eleven, alone in the study in the dark in a cool pool of moonlight at the window. The party is in full swing on the back lawn outside. Half of Accra must be out there. Some fifty-odd tables dressed in white linen table skirts, the walls at the periphery all covered in lights, the swimming pool glittering with tea lights in bowls bobbing lightly on the surface of the water, glowing green.
The smells of things — night-damp earth, open grill, frangipani trees, citronella — seep in through the window, slightly cracked. You tap the glass lightly and What does Ashanti mean in African?
your hand, testing, but no one looks up. It rained around four for five minutes and not longer; now the sky is rich black for its cleansing. Beneath it a soukous band shows off the latest from Congo, the lead singer wailing in French and Lingala. She ought to be ridiculous: little leopard-print shorts, platform heels, hot-pink half-top, two What does Ashanti mean in African?
of bangles. Instead, wet with sweat and moon, trembling, ascendant, all movement and muscle, she is fearsome. It is a heart-wrenching voice, cutting straight through the din of the chatter, forced laughter, clinked glasses, the crickets. She What does Ashanti mean in African? shaking her shoulders, hips, braided extensions. She has the most genuine intentions of any woman out there.
Their bright bubas adorn the large garden like odd brilliant bulbs that bloom only at night. From the dark of the study you watch with the interest of a scientist observing a species. Rich African women, like Japanese geisha in wax-batik geles, their skin bleached too light. They are strange to you, strange to the landscape, the dark, with the same polished skill-set of rich women worldwide: how to smile with full lips while the eyes What does Ashanti mean in African?
empty; how to hate with indifference; how to love without heat. You wonder if they find themselves beautiful, or powerful? Or perplexing, as they seem to you, watching from here? She trained in the States. They all wear the same one impenetrable expression: eyebrows up, lips pushed out, nostrils slightly flared in poor imitation of the 1990s supermodel.
It is a difficult expression to pull off successfully, the long-suffering look of women bored with being looked at. The girls in the garden look more startled than self-satisfied, as if their features are shocked to be forming this face. You What does Ashanti mean in African? barely manage movement in the big one-piece buba you borrowed from Comfort, your cousin, under duress.
The off-the-shoulder neckline keeps slipping to your elbow, exposing your troublingly flat chest. The dry quiet a sharp sudden contrast to the wet of the heat and the racket outside. And as sharply and as suddenly, the consciousness of nakedness. This was moments ago nakedness as you lay, having fallen, the conditioned air chilly and silky against your chest.
The outermost boundaries of a body, the endpoints, where the land of warm skin meets the sea of cold air. What does Ashanti mean in African? lay on your back in the dark on the floor, like that, newly aware of your nipples.
You listened for a moment, as if to a message, then kicked off the sandals and stood to your feet. You went to What does Ashanti mean in African? window and looked at the singer, in flight on the stage, to the high note. You think of the houseboys with their lawn chairs in an oval reading Othello in thick accents, Uncle watching with pride. Demand me nothing: what you know, you know.
From this time forth I never will speak word. With the thing come together, the pattern emerging, the lines, circles, secrets, lies, hurts, back to this, here, the study, where else, given the fabric, the pattern, the stars.
The day began typically: with the bulbul in the garden, with the sound of Auntie shouting about this or about that, with your little blue bedroom catching fire with sunlight and you waking up from the dream.
In it, your mother is bidding you farewell at the airport. This first part is exactly what happened that day. You are eight years old, skinny, in the blue gingham dress with a red satin bow in your braids and brown shoes.
Uncle is in the terminal presumably buying your tickets. You are waiting with your mother on the sidewalk outside. She is crouching beside you with her hand on your shoulder, a wild throng of people jostling around and against you. Her fingernails are painted a hot crimson red. Meanwhile, a stranger with a camera is trying to take a picture. A smallish human being by the side of a larger one, both with neat braids with small beads at the ends; What does Ashanti mean in African?
slim well, one skinny with dark knobbly kneecaps; one never without lipstick, the other never allowed. In the dream, as it happened, you ignore the photographer. Finally you look up in the hope of some silence. Your mother pulls you close to her, so close you can taste her, the scent of her lotion delicious, a lie. A chalky taste, heavy and soapy as wax. You suck it in greedily. Her braids are tied back with an indigo scarf, the tail of which billows up, covering her face.
The scarf is tied tightly, pulling her skin towards her temples, making her cheekbones jut out like a carved Oyo mask. The red on her lips contrasts the indigo perfectly, as the man who bought the scarf would have no doubt foreseen.
Not for the first time you think that your mother is the most beautiful woman in Lagos.
At this moment, here beside you, your mother is unquestionable. In the liminal space between dreaming and waking into which enters shouting, about this or about that you started to scream but the feel of the sound taking form in your throat woke you fully. But when you look at it now you see only your mother.
The scarf blowing forward and hiding her face. No one has heard from her since. Not for a minute do you believe what they say. They are villagers, cruel like your grandmother. As told to you: Dzifa missing mother was born eight years after Uncle in Lolito, a village on the Volta. Their father, a fisherman, What does Ashanti mean in African? drowned in the river the day after Dzifa was born.
Their mother, your grandmother, for obvious reasons decided her daughter was cursed. Uncle, unconvinced, worshipped and adored his little sister and the two were inseparable growing up. Dzifa was beautiful, preternaturally so, shining star of the little Lolito schoolhouse.
But your grandmother, believer in boys-only education and a product of the same, withdrew her daughter from school. Your mother, infuriated, ran away from Lolito and hitchhiked her way to Nigeria. In the same years Uncle won the scholarship to study in Detroit and left Ghana, himself, for a time. An alto saxophonist in an Afro-funk band, he left when he learned she was pregnant.
You were living at the time in a thirteenth-floor hotel room, free of charge, care of the hotel proprietor. This may have been his surname; you were never really sure. He was ginger-haired, Scottish, born in Glasgow, raised in Jos, son of tin miners-cum-missionaries, tall and loud, freckled, fat. He was stingy with his mangoes, barking at the kitchen staff in the morning to use more orange slices and pineapple cubes in the breakfast buffet.
What does Ashanti mean in African? face blazed an unnatural pink when he shouted, like the colour of his hair, or his skin after visits. You were shocked when you moved here to find mangoes more perfect growing freely on the tree in the garden.
The sounds of the highway, of Lagos at night. There were no guests or hotel staff at the pool after midnight. No sweating waiters in suits with mixed drinks on silver trays. No thin women in swimsuits, their skin seared to crimson, their offspring peeing greenly in the water.
Still now there is something about those nights that you miss; maybe the promise of your mother in the morning? On the night Uncle found her she was circling the lounge like the liquor fairy, topping up vodka and Scotch.
You were behind the bar reading Beezus and Ramona, recently abandoned by some American. Then abruptly, glass smashing, a comparative silence, the extraction of human voice from the ongoing din.
She was staring at him, mouth agape, shards at her feet. Over and over and over. You wondered how he knew her name. After a moment she smiled. Too bright to be real. Too beautiful to be fake. After the hugging and weeping and telling it all Uncle insisted she return to Ghana. Uncle and a woman, a fair-skinned Nigerian, the photographer, drove you to the airport. Your mother was silent, gazing away, out the window, her eyes black and final as freshly poured tar.
You were pressed up against her, so close you could breathe her, the taste of rose lotion breaking the promise of its smell. Then Murtala Muhammed: the arriving, the departing, the begging, the crippled, the trash and What does Ashanti mean in African? throng. Here you are three years later.
You set down the photo and glanced out the window. The caterers had arrived with the party decor. A large painted banner on the back of their truck read Mary Christmas! The warmth of the wet spot turned cold on the backs of your thighs.
You detached the fitted sheet from the narrow twin bed and carried it, embarrassed, to the washroom. She prefers to clean clothing the old way, by hand. Auntie, who refuses to travel to Britain, waited for the delivery as for a prodigal child. Whatever the case, none of your neighbours have machines as impressive as the one in the washroom. The whirring contraption put too great a strain on the power supply, waning in Ghana. No one seems to mind much that you wear them also. Frowning with her eyebrows but not with her eyes.
She stands like this often, with her hands on her hips, bony elbows pushed back like a fledgling set of wings. She is pretty to you, Ruby, though her appearance is jarring, the eyes of a griot in the face of a girl. Her eyes have the look of a century of seeing. They say she lost a child once. Which would certainly explain it. What does Ashanti mean in African? the peculiar What does Ashanti mean in African? of African households the only rung lower than motherless child is childless mother.
She held out her hand. You gave her the sheet, which she shoved into the washer. She closed the windowed door and looked, scowling, at the buttons, unsure which to press, too proud to say so. The washer, as advertised, sprang noiselessly to life. Ruby gasped, startled, stepping backwards. Shoulder to shoulder, like a couple viewing a painting. Whites in the window of the washer, sheets and shirts. The cloth twisting beautifully like What does Ashanti mean in African?
arms and long legs of the National? Theatre dancers dancing silently in soap. She returned a moment later with a clean fitted sheet. You took this, folded neatly and smelling of Fa soap.
She is beautiful when she smiles. Your breakfast was laid on the small wooden table: one scallop-sliced pawpaw and lime wedge as always. Francis was frying kelewele for Comfort her favourite in honour of her first morning home.
To the dismay of his employer, the eponymous Guy, Uncle made Francis a better offer. His parents are Ewe, his mother from Togo, his English much weaker than his French, even now. Appearing at the door in her slippers. She padded into the kitchen, stretching her arms with a yawn. Reached for a slice of your pawpaw and sighed. Comfort and you have always eaten in the kitchen, the small one, at the rickety wood table like this.
The arrangement dates back to the morning you arrived after the short Virgin flight from Nigeria. As he tells it, Uncle ushered you proudly into the dining room for breakfast. After Uncle tried unsuccessfully to sell you on an omelette Francis intervened, uncharacteristically.
He lifted you carefully out of the dining-room chair and carried you into his kitchen. Silent, he placed you at the small wooden table and returned to his work pounding yam. Auntie had a massive new kitchen installed off the first-floor pantry this summer.
When Auntie said no, Comfort refused to eat also, so Uncle What does Ashanti mean in African? yes, but only breakfast. V Iago appeared presently at the door to the kitchen. He is the best-looking houseboy, you think. First, Ruby never smiles and Iago never stops: perfect teeth, strong and white, and one dimple. Second, she lost a child. And what would they know about love in this house? The cleverest of all, according to Uncle, who just last Monday said as much during Reading Group.
Uncle started the Shakespeare Reading Group last winter, with the dust like fine sugar on the grass, in the air. Kofi drags the lawn chairs into an oval by the pool, carrying out an armchair from the living room for Uncle.
You read it in one sitting, seated cross-legged by the bookshelf. At some point you stopped reading and there he was. Uncle: arms folded, leaning lightly What does Ashanti mean in African?
the door frame. You uncrossed your legs quickly, fumbling to get to your feet, trying to think up an excuse for being in there. On the one occasion Auntie caught you reading she said nothing.
She was passing by your door on her way down the stairs. She had a bottle of Scotch. She started to speak, hiding the bottle, then stopped. You pretended not to notice the What does Ashanti mean in African?. It was a new way of seeing her, your own gaze unnoticed, staring straight at her face while she gazed past, through yours. She looked young without make-up and tired. What does Ashanti mean in African?
cream-satin nightdress, sponge rollers. You waited for her to finish. You did and found the battered Othello. You were there sitting cross-legged when Uncle appeared at the door and you half tried to stand.
He invited you to Shakespeare Reading Group that week. You went to the garden, read the part of Desdemona. The pool brilliant blue in the late-morning light. But his name then was Yaw. Yaw made his announcement at the end of the hour with his hand on his packet as if the play were a Bible. Kofi looked at Yaw, almost pityingly. He held out the mangoes to Francis. Even to Ruby, who was employed before Comfort was born, Comfort says little. She barely seemed to notice Iago, back-lit, at the door.
The sun from behind him seeped into her eyes. Seated across from her, you stared at her face. She looked up, saw Iago, and her eyes sort of flickered. Just the hint of a hardening. Sort of heart-shaped and plumpish with the cheeks of a cherub, the long curly lashes and small, pointy chin.
The skin on her collarbones and shoulders, in particular, is impossibly smooth, with a specific effect: that calm kind of loveliness unique to flat landscapes, to uninterrupted stretches of uniform terrain. But there she is — Auntie — fluttering from table to round table, drawing all eyes and oxygen towards her, restless Monarch.
She is somewhat less witch-like when viewed through the window. Merely beautiful beyond all reason. Perhaps anyone so striking, so sharp on the outside, would appear to be hard on the inside as well? Then Auntie stands straight and the moon gilds her up-and-down: white in a garden of colour, as foreseen.
As you watch from the study Auntie flutters to Comfort, who is fussing with Kwabena, her fiancé. Auntie offers her cheeks, one then the other, to his kisses. Comfort steps back, for no reason; there is space.
Kwabena begins gesturing, chatting animatedly with Auntie. Comfort sips foam off her Malta, gazes away. She is too starkly lit. A floodlight on everything around it, in darkness. It is the same thing you saw for that moment this morning, the sun slanting in thick and golden as oil.
Francis finished crafting a blossom from an orange then turned his focus to scalloping mango. You finished your pawpaw, surreptitiously watching Iago, his chale-watas wet still from washing the car. The pink tip of his tongue on the stringy-gold flesh, What does Ashanti mean in African? wetness around his mouth, made your stomach drop down. What does Ashanti mean in African?
feeling very similar to wetting the bed when the dream is most vivid. Iago finished the mango and tossed What does Ashanti mean in African? pit across the kitchen. It landed in the rubbish with a clatter. Comfort slapped at a mosquito. She considered the mosquito bite blooming on her arm. He ran down the path along the side of the kitchen. On the other side of the house is a wide pebbled walkway that winds from the gates to the garden at the back. This is how party guests access the garden.
The house staff, forbidden, use the kitchen path. It scares you for some reason. Its dark smell of dampness, the wild, winding crawlers climbing the side of the house, the low-hanging tree branches twisted together like the skinny gnarled arms of a child with lupus. And, set back in shadow behind the tangle of branches, ominous and concrete, never touched by the sun: those three huddled structures with their one concrete courtyard where the houseboys sit on beer crates and eat after dark.
A cooking fire flickering against the black of the sky and their laughter in bursts, muted refrains. Iago disappeared down this path. You took your plate to the sink, turned on the water to rinse it. Francis patted your What does Ashanti mean in African?, took the plate, pushed you away.
You who ate leftovers at the bar with the busboys at the end of each night while your mother drank rum; who helped maids on the mornings your mother was hung-over; eating left-behind chocolates and half-rotting fruit. Iago will let you trail him reciting Othello across the lawn he has memorized his part and no longer needs a scriptas Kofi will abide your quiet audience. Francis will let you watch from the little wooden table while he skins and chops chicken in the afternoon light.
A breeze had kept billowing it up. Francis finished breakfast and arranged it on a tray. As if on cue, Ruby came into the kitchen, chale-watas slapping the concrete. She stopped when she saw Comfort. You are very welcome home. The swinging door flapped lightly back and forth, then shut behind her. Comfort turned to Francis, scratching the mosquito bite on her arm. Still thinks I can cook. She looked at you jealously. She looked up and frowned.
She went to the door, took the leaf from his hand. Comfort watched him go, rubbing her arm with the sap. Its one wall-length window overlooks the back garden, the three other walls lined with books. In the study — as in the parlour, as in the dining room, as in the drawing room — this furnishing serves to mute footfalls. The door was half closed when you came for the books. The swinging door clapped shut as you bounded out of the kitchen. Up the staircase to the study, skipping every other stair.
You were wondering what books Comfort had brought back from Boston, whether more Edith Wharton or your new favourite Richard Wright? The door was ajar but no sunlight spilled out of it. You approached and peered in the slim opening. The drapes were pulled over the window, uncharacteristically. A stack of glossy paperbacks beckoned by the tray. You assumed, perfectly logically, that Uncle had finished eating and left the tray for Kofi or Ruby to come collect. You pushed the door slightly and slipped in the slim opening, your feet sinking into the soft of the rug.
Uncle was in his chair, facing the window and drapes, gripping the edge of the desk with his fingertips. She was kneeling there neatly, skinny legs folded beneath her, her hands on his knees, heart-shaped face in his lap.
The sound she made reminded you of cloth sloshing in buckets, as rhythmic and functional, almost mindless, and wet. Uncle whimpered bizarrely, like the dogs before beatings. For whatever reason, you stood there transfixed by the books. It was Ruby who saw you but Uncle who cried out, as if sustaining some cruel, unseen wound.
Now you saw the trousers in a puddle around his ankles. Now he saw you, mute, at the door. She crumpled to the rug like a doll. Ruby scrambled to her feet; you stumbled back out the door. She wore only her lappa and a tattered lace bra.
She looked at you quickly as you pushed the door shut. Her almond eyes glittered with hatred. The trick had been to show up after Sinclair made his rounds, shouting complaints then disappearing until dinner. The spoils that morning had been unusually abundant: enough fruit for a week, pancakes, over-boiled eggs. A younger cook had set the food on a What does Ashanti mean in African?
rolling cart and sent you up to your room in the freight elevator. The rest you remember not as a series of events but as a single expression. You must have inserted the keycard in the door, which would have beeped open, blinking green, making noise.
But they must not have heard you. So you wheeled in the cart and just stood there, frozen, mute at the door. Your mother on the floor, Sinclair kneeling behind her, their moaning an inelegant music, the sweat. Bright knives in the dark of her irises. From the study to your room.
Slamming the door, leaning against it. The sound — sloshing cloth, buckets of soap — in your ears. Your bright blue walls trembled, or seemed to, in that moment, like a suspended tsunami about to crash in.
In that moment, as you stood there, with your back to the door and the lump in your throat and your pulse in your ears, you saw that What does Ashanti mean in African? was you who was wrong and not they. You were wrong to have pitied her. That she could make Uncle start whimpering like the dogs before beatings meant something was possible under this roof, in this house; something different from — and you wondered, was it better than?
You stood at your door trembling jealously. You heard the steps small ones on the other side of your door, followed by the faint sound of feet on the stairs, going down. You waited for a second then cracked the door open.
You glanced down the hall to the study; the door was open. The drapes had been drawn back to richly bright light. You picked up the books and you walked down the stairs. So you went to the garden as you would have done otherwise, had you not seen what you saw in the study just then. You said nothing to Francis who was just starting the chin-chin, nor to Iago who was making centrepieces of torch gingers as you appeared. You stopped, staring down at her. She shifted, squinting up at you.
The garden half done like a woman getting ready, standing naked at the mirror in her necklace and shoes. The thick buzz of flies and the sweet smell of chin-chin. Not for the first time you thought about running. They were consumed with their preparations, all of the houseboys and caterers, Comfort sunning in her bikini, Iago working by the pool. You could get up now, unnoticed, leave your books, walk away. There What does Ashanti mean in African?
the door at the edge of the garden. You considered it, suddenly hopeful, not one hundred yards away. Perhaps it pushed out to some Neverland? Or simply to some route to the road through the brush?
Now the breath left your chest What does Ashanti mean in African? your heart began racing. She was standing across What does Ashanti mean in African? garden at the door into the living room in big bug-eye sunglasses, shouting your name. She was starting to go in when she saw Comfort by the pool. Your husband is coming this afternoon.
You need to get dressed. Auntie glanced at the caterers, who were observing this exchange. Then looked down at Comfort, sucked her teeth, turned away.
You had better be decent. You sat in the back, silent, with Auntie. You glanced at her quickly, holding her bag in your lap, trying to interpret her vacant expression. Would Uncle send you away if you shared this with Auntie? Would Auntie like you better if you did? You were thinking this over when she spoke. Two or three bottles down, Mahmood would demand that you join them, instructing Kofi to come get you from your bedroom.
He liked to tell the tale of the silkworm crisis that brought the Lebanese to Ghana. English Leather, fermented tobacco, citronella in your nose. The last time he visited — over a year ago, summer — you climbed into his lap as per habit.
He stroked your knee gently and kissed you on the head. Uncle pulled on his cigar, his eyes twinkling in the candlelight. Uncle merely laughed, ignoring Auntie, speaking louder. Their eyes grazed your face and you closed your own tightly but no sooner had you done so than the image appeared.
On the backs of your eyelids where such images are stored: of Sinclair on the floor with your mother. You opened your eyes quickly but the image remained.
You were sick to your stomach.
There were hands at your waist. He was squeezing your waist tightly then kissing your cheek. His beard scratched your shoulder. His lips wet your neck. The thought was just forming: his hands are too tight. They were pressing against your ribs through your nightdress; you were nauseous. That image in the air.
But heard Auntie as you opened your mouth. The gesture knocked his glass to the tile where it smashed. The wine ran into the pool like a ribbon of blood. He stood, lifting you with him, kissed your head, set you down.
You trailed behind Auntie to the door to the store. You lingered behind Auntie, glancing at your reflections in the mirrors. You, shorter, in your shorts. In light like that there is something very African about Auntie. But the set of her mouth, the slight downturn of the lips, the proud upturn of the chin betray her paternity. Her eyes met yours suddenly. In spite of yourself you took a little step backwards. She is terrifying to you, Mariam, viscerally so. She has the same What does Ashanti mean in African?
features as her daughter and What does Ashanti mean in African?, her skin a dark bronze from the decades in Ghana. They say that Mahmood would be nothing without his sister, ruthless bookkeeper; that What does Ashanti mean in African? was she who built his business. She just stood at the counter at the back of the store watching Auntie. We throw the same party every year. But Mariam smiled brightly, a menacing expression. A bit like a wound beneath her nose.
Her eyes travelled past Auntie and rested on you. It is obvious, and still seems the lie. This is what jars you as you watch from the window: how impervious she appears still, impenetrable. There is anger in Auntie and, you see it now, hurting. The sheen of her eyes like a lacquer, sealing grief. It wants to be believed. And you want to believe it. The lie of her majesty. The truth of her weakness leaves nothing to be hoped for, leaves nothing to cling to, makes everything as weak.
It is that all of you are. It was filthy: a cluttered office with a kitchen in the back, sticky tiles, one oily window overlooking the market.
Mariam went to the kitchen and put a kettle on the stove. Auntie stood looking around as if for a mop. Finally, she perched gingerly on the arm of a desk chair. She gestured to you, impatiently.
You opened the handbag and pulled out the envelope. Mariam reappeared with two teacups. She handed you both cups, took the invitation, looked it over. Then sat at the desk clasping her hands. You handed Auntie a teacup. There was no place to sit. You wished you had waited with Kofi in the car. You noticed this now, peering into your own teacup with worry.
Mariam noticed your expression and chuckled. The outburst made you start, spilling tea on your T-shirt. They both turned to look at you now.
You stood, glancing at Auntie. There were flies in the toilet and stains on the tiles, the stench overwhelming: urine, ammonia, mothballs. You were fumbling with the door, trying to let yourself out, when Mariam began screaming on the other side of it. Your little stand-off is about Mahmood? Passed off as your child. Her What does Ashanti mean in African? and their meaning were like a taste on your tongue, then, a thickness spreading slowly across the roof of your mouth. The daughter of a housegirl.
You heaved, vomited pawpaw into the toilet. Now came a rustling, someone slamming a door; now the clicking of heels, growing louder, towards the bathroom. There was Auntie, crying quietly, fumbling for her sunglasses in her bag. She looked at you blankly and turned. She got in the car. Kofi glanced back at her, started the car. She removed her bug sunglasses and wiped her eyes quickly.
She put them back on. Kofi pulled up to the gates and honked. George opened the gates with much clanging of locks. Kofi drove in, Benz tyres crunching white pebbles. She got out on her side and you jumped out on yours. Perhaps you were waiting for instructions about something?
About not saying a word to a soul or suchlike? You What does Ashanti mean in African? to stay near her, you thought, trailing behind her. So you followed her into the kitchen. Francis was removing a tray of chin-chin from the oven. You entered behind Auntie, swinging door swinging shut. Auntie stepped forward to stand just beneath him.
Or no, you intend to ignore me? He shook his head, faltering. Then Auntie reached up and slapped him. He dropped the tray of chin-chin, the sweets scattering across the floor. Tears sprung to your eyes. She stabbed the air in front of him, gasping for breath. You do as I say. You stood there with Francis, who stared at you, silent. With tears in his eyes and what else? For the thickness in your mouth. The door opened suddenly and Uncle stormed in.
He looked at the chin-chin, scattered nuggets on the floor. The sky seemed to darken outside the door. Francis knelt down and picked up the tray — a long way down for such a tall man. He set it on the counter, leaving the chin-chin on the floor. He ducked, and walked out the door.
There, dumbstruck in the kitchen. You waited too long before you followed him out. The rocks and knotted roots cut through the soles of your chale-watas as you pushed through the low-hanging leaves. The caterers were raising a new banner above the dance floor. A boy was setting tea lights into bowls. No one seemed to notice you. You saw the little door across the garden. Weeds, chopped-down trees, redolent dankness of earth. And Iago kissing Comfort in her bikini. She was leaning against a tree with her hands at his waist.
He was cupping her breasts. At the sound of the door creaking, feet crackling on twigs, Iago turned. Comfort looked also, saw you, and cried What does Ashanti mean in African?. Iago clamped What does Ashanti mean in African? hand over her mouth. For the second time that day you backed out of a door, pulled it shut, and stood staring, now seeing.
Thunder, then it started to rain. You came up the path slowly in the driving rain, the wet on your shoulders and face like a weight.
The smell of damp earth swelling up from the ground as it does in the tropics, overpowering the air. So that all that there was for those few wretched minutes was the rain on your skin and the earth in your nose. The caterers, behind you, shouting about things getting wet, as you pushed through the low-hanging branches, then stopped. With the water from the shower and the downpouring rain and the soap on his face, and the cloth in his hands.
You gasped to see it, that foreign landscape of muscle: the hills of the stomach, the mountain of bum, the plain of his shoulders, the tree trunk of torso, the roots of the cordons the length of his legs. In a way, it was too much to see in that moment, through the tangle of branches, nude Francis. But the sound of the movement was loud and he heard it. He turned his head quickly and opened his eyes. He stared at you, frozen, the cloth in his hands, but not using it to cover himself, suds in his eyes.
As if God turned a tap just once to the left. Francis stood staring at you, arms open wide. With rage in his eyes. You could barely see anything, for the tears welled in yours. You turned and ran into the house. To the stairs, past the washroom, where the caterers were conferring noisily about the soaking-wet linens, decrying the absence of a dryer.
Up the stairs to your bedroom, where you removed your wet T-shirt, kicked off the sopping chale-watas, pulled on your cut-offs, a dry top. You found the slippers with the beading, beckoning cheerfully, slipped these on. You squeezed your eyes shut. Auntie was on the stairs, her eyes swollen, no make-up. She glanced towards your bedroom. Borrow a buba from your cousin. Auntie looked at Comfort then back up at you. Comfort looked up at you also. Comfort looks nothing like Auntie. Their eyes on your face, different shapes, the same pleading.
Auntie turned to Comfort and pointed at her shoes. She considered your cheerful slippers, considered Comfort, and hissed. She continued down to Comfort and lifted her chin.
Comfort looked up, at you. She is beautiful when she smiles. He walks in behind you, saying nothing at all and not closing the door in the silvery dark. You turn round to face him.
You start to say more but he holds up a hand, shakes his head, is not angry. Ever so slightly behind you. Puts a hand on your shoulder, palm surprisingly cold. In a very gentle motion he rearranges the buba. He is quiet for a moment. The singer is hitting a high note, clutching the mike as if for life.
You look at the dance floor. You see Kwabena but not Auntie. The younger girls dancing with men in full suits. You look to the tables. There is Comfort, sitting stiffly. You feel your breath quicken. The hotness of rum and his breath on your skin. The buba slides off and he adjusts it again carefully.
Not at the touch but the tense. Is that all you say? You are silent, unable to move. Unable to face him you stare What does Ashanti mean in African?
your feet sinking into the carpet, toes painted pink. And in them something familiar. You shake your head quickly. And when he leans down to kiss you, you know what he means. You feel his tears on your face, mixed with yours, warm; his cool. But you bear it for those moments, as an act of generosity or something like itfeeling for the first time at home in his house. The only sound in the darkness. She leans against the door frame then slumps to the ground.
Uncle smoothes his trousers with the palms of his hands. He touches your shoulder calmly before going to the door. God damn you to hell. He grabs her by the shoulders, standing her up on her feet. She flails at him, sobbing. In the dark and the silence you wish you could vanish, at least crawl beneath the desk without her noticing and hide. What life there was in her was choked out by hatred; whatever light in her eyes was the glint of that hate.
And whom did she hate so? This place and these women.
So you go to her, stumbling over the hem of the garment What does Ashanti mean in African? you cross the Persian rug and she looks up, face smeared. The kohl make-up runs down her cheeks like black tears. You sit down beside her, laying your head in her lap. A familiar sound, peculiar: the sound of your name. You put your arms around her waist. You hold her very tightly, and she holds you as if for life.
You wish there was something you could say, to comfort her. In the peculiar hierarchy of African households the only rung lower than motherless child is childless mother. Artwork © Olaf Hajek Taiye Selasi Taiye Selasi was born in London to Nigerian and Ghanian parents. Selasi made her fiction debut in Granta in 2011 with 'The Sex Live of African Girls', which was selected for Best American Short Stories in 2012. Her first novel, Ghana Must Go, was published in March 2013.
An avid traveller and photographer, Selasi lives in Rome.